7 Interesting Life Lessons I Learned In Brazil
One of the best ways to learn outside of a classroom is traveling to a foreign country. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is the fastest way to improve yourself.
If you want a crash course to life lessons, take a trip to Brazil.
That’s what I did.
While living in Brazil, I learned a lot about myself and a lot about people. Some are less serious than others, but all of them added something new to my worldview.
1. Everyone Hates Their Country
It’s funny when I think about it now. I used to speak about America harshly. I thought it was one of the worst countries on earth. I couldn’t wait to get to Brazil.
Then I got to Brazil and I quickly noticed Brazilians hated Brazil. It got so annoying I wanted to slap them and say Brazil wasn’t that bad.
Instead, I slapped myself because I realized that’s how I used to sound. You can’t be so full of yourself that you can’t see when you are acting unreasonable.
No country is perfect, but every country has great qualities.
Americans hate their country. Brazilians hate their country.
Lesson: Everyone hates their country.
2. Many Brazilians Are Fat
I didn’t think about the cons of an improved economy when I first visited Brazil in 2012.
I was at Copacabana beach and most people I saw were overweight. I thought I was on the wrong beach (soon I found out Copacabana is not the hip beach in Rio).
But I was not.
Everywhere I went I noticed fat people. Then, I had a realization.
Brazil has a population of over 200 million; of course there will be overweight people. Also, there will be fat people in a culture with traditions involving buffets of food and beer.
Brazilians love to eat and drink.
When you add more disposable income for fast food, cars and electronics that result in more sedentary people, there’s bound to be an obesity epidemic.
Overall, there are still less fat people in Brazil than America. But everyone is not walking around with a beach body like you might believe.
Lesson: More wealth doesn’t automatically mean more health.
3. Tourists Are Not Travelers
“I love to travel”
You hear that from a lot of people who will show you their passport full of stamps from different countries.
But nine times out of ten, that person couldn’t tell you anything in-depth about a country that you couldn’t google for yourself in ten seconds.
Tourists go to places solely to take pictures for Instagram and Facebook. They visit just because it’s on their bucket list.
They rarely interact with the local people and find out more about the culture. They don’t stray too far away from the safe areas.
Living in Brazil, I noticed many tourists. People who didn’t want to learn a tiny bit of the local language to understand the country. They didn’t want to go out into the city and explore.
They slept all day, went to the club all night and did it all over again for a week. They basically lived a regular weekend of their life. Just in another city.
Tourists don’t like to travel.
Tourists like to tour.
Lesson: Always be a traveler.
4. I Learned How To Be “Friendly”
I’m not the most social person and I like my alone time. So, living in Brazil by myself proved to be a big leap from my normal personality.
How was I suppose to make friends and survive in a foreign country where I didn’t even speak the language?
But I found out a cool trait about myself.
I really had no problems meeting people although sometimes I did feel like I wanted to get away.
Do you have trouble making friends? I’d recommend traveling abroad ALONE and putting yourself in a situation where you have to make new ones.
Lesson: People want to know you. Let them.
5. Racism Is All About Money
Growing up in America, I already knew this to an extent. But living in Brazil and seeing another society similar to the U.S. made it crystal clear.
Racism is all about controlling resources. It’s about keeping land, keeping educational opportunities and keeping money.
I didn’t see enough black faces in the nice areas of Brazil to believe it’s all about class in Brazil and not the color of your skin.
Yes, there are white Brazilians in the favelas. They are poor too. But that is like saying America isn’t racist because there are white people in trailer parks.
It’s not all about who is poor. It’s about who is most likely to be middle-class and rich as well.
Lesson: Protesting won’t end racism. Building real wealth will.
6. Two Weeks Of Vacation Isn’t Enough
It’s difficult to live outside of America for a while then return to regular life.
I’ve concluded that I won’t be satisfied with two weeks of vacation. Not even a month. I need a flexible work schedule so I can travel spontaneously.
Currently, I’m working on a way to fund my life in Brazil like I wrote about in this great article published a few months ago -> 5 Ways To Fund Your Life In Brazil.
Lesson: Jobs suck.
7. Positive Thinking Trumps All
Living in Brazil, I learned how no one can make me happy or unhappy.
I control my thoughts and actions.
I saw many Brazilians living in horrible living conditions and yet, they were still positive. They smiled and said hello.
They didn’t walk around with a frown on their face like so many people I know who have every opportunity in the world to be happy.
Many of us take the life we have now for granted. There are things that can be better, but we should never think so far ahead in the future or live so far in the past that we don’t realize the greatness of what we have today.
Lesson: Your thoughts produce your words, your words produce your actions, your actions produce your life.
This is a revised version of an article published October 4th, 2015 at www.rioinaweek.com -The Brazilian Blog For Men